Do you have asthma? Medical experts weigh in on whether the respiratory condition is made WORSE by COVID-19 – and the precautions to take now
- Coughing and shortness of breath are symptoms for asthma and COVID-19
- It’s not known whether people who have asthma are at more risk with the virus
- However a respiratory specialist said that it ‘couldn’t be good’ for asthmatics
- Asthmatics are asked to take medication to reduce the chance of a flare-up
Medical experts are calling for asthmatics to take regular medication during the coronavirus pandemic, as it’s not known how ‘at risk’ the population is because of their outstanding respiratory issues.
Coughing and a shortness of breath are symptoms of having asthma and also key issues relating to positive COVID-19 cases, making specialists wary of those who have the illness.
‘I couldn’t imagine this being good for asthma, but there’s no evidence to say how bad it is for asthma at the moment,’ respiratory specialist Professor Brian Oliver at the University of Technology in Sydney told the ABC.
The World Health Organisation said people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus on its website.
It said: ‘WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.’
Coughing and a shortness of breath are symptoms of having asthma and also key issues relating to positive COVID-19 cases, making specialists wary of those who have the illness (woman wearing a mask to protect from COVID-19)
Professor Oliver was equally concerned with another disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, which are a group of lung disorders that block regular airflow and make it hard to breathe.
If you do have asthma he recommends taking medication to prevent a flare-up that could land you in hospital, to reduce the amount of beds Australia is using on non-COVID-19 patients.
According to Health Direct Australia 11 per cent of the population has asthma, which is approximately 2.5million people.
Slightly more women than men suffer from the respiratory disease.
If you do have asthma he recommends taking medication to prevent a flare-up that could land you in hospital, to reduce the amount of beds Australia is using on non-COVID-19 patients (pictured is a woman testing for COVID-19)
What is asthma?
Asthma is a treatable lung disease
Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways (the breathing tubes that carry air into our lungs).
From time to time, people with asthma find it harder to breathe in and out, because the airways in their lungs become narrower – like trying to breathe through a thin straw.
At other times their breathing is normal.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can usually be well controlled. Most people with asthma can stay active and have a healthy life.
Source: National Asthma Org Australia
‘Asthma costs about $1.2billion a year in healthcare costs and as much as $28billion a year in total ($11,740 per person) when you take into account disability, loss of productivity, time off work, premature death and other costs caused by asthma,’ the website read.
Most asthmatics will carry reliever medications, known as ‘puffers’, which uses a drug to relax the constricted muscles in your airway, relieving symptoms like wheezing and coughing.
Professor Oliver told the ABC that viruses have the power to make these medications less effective, leading to issues like an asthma attack.
‘On a molecular level, viruses do this by desensitising the pathway through which your puffer drug is designed to work,’ he said.
Professor Oliver told the ABC that viruses have the power to make these medications less effective, leading to issues like an asthma attack (woman wearing a mask waiting in a Centrelink line)
Coronavirus symptoms and how it spreads:
Symptoms of coronavirus
Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly. People with coronavirus may experience:
- flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
- shortness of breath
How it spreads
There is evidence that the virus spreads from person-to-person. The virus is most likely spread through:
- close contact with an infectious person
- contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
- touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face
How to prevent it
Everyone should practice good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:
- washing your hands often with soap and water
- using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- avoiding close contact with others, such as touching
‘So if your bronchodilator [medication] isn’t working, when you have symptoms [caused by inflammation in response to the virus], the drugs that should be helping you don’t work as well.’
A person can safely use their inhaler every 30-60 minutes for two to three hours without significant risk of harmful side effects, Asthma Partners reported.
Even if you haven’t had an attack recently, and believe yourself to be ‘cured’ of asthma, medical experts are asking for relievers to be on your person or within reach at all times.